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Tim Lewens (HPS, Cambridge Univ., UK): Science and Values: The Case of ‘Mitochondrial Donation’
29 September 2017 | 14 h 30 min - 16 h 00 min
Tim Lewens (HPS, Cambridge University, UK)
Science and Values: The Case of ‘Mitochondrial Donation’
In 2015, the UK became the first country in the world to introduce legislation explicitly permitting the clinical use of ‘mitochondrial donation’ techniques. These new reproductive technologies have the potential to enable women with diseases that are normally inherited via the mitochondrial genome to have genetically related children with healthy mitochondria. The extensive—and extremely thorough—deliberations that preceded the legalization of these techniques involved a division of advisory labour that is common when new technologies are introduced. Some groups focused on the ethics of mitochondrial donation. Meanwhile, different groups of technical advisors focused ‘exclusively on the science…’, and ‘…did not consider the ethical and legal issues raised by such techniques.’ I use the case of mitochondrial donation to argue against the possibility of any strict separation of scientific and ethical evaluation. This case study also illuminates more general philosophical issues around the ‘value-ladenness’ of science, and the ‘argument from inductive risk’ in particular.